I feel like I have been trapped in my house for months, suffering from the icy claws of doom – anxiety and all its bogeymen – the sensations of rapid heartbeats, feeling like I’m going to pass out, and like I am going to die. Imagine then, finding out that a support group is only available at the END of January!
For those of you who don’t know me, YES, I suffer from anxiety, and panic disorder. I have found myself in the ER countless times, hooked up to a machine with six supple fingers caressing my chest, arms, and legs attached to blue and white plastic disks held on by globs of sticky snot-like glue. (Let me tell you, with or without anticipation, those suckers sting like hell. Go ahead, pull out a chest hair, or a few arm hairs, and you’ll see what I mean!)
I know, I have read The Boy That Cried Wolf when I was little. I’m blessed that I will get the same care regardless of how many times I rush to the hospital, in my latest Holy Shit, I‘m Fucking Dying again! What’s wrong with me, why won’t my heart ever stop?????
A couple of weeks back, I found myself in the ER, worried as to why my heart was thudding in its chest during resting, and movement caused me to fire up as if I was running full speed on the hamster – err… treadmill. THAT time I was only concerned, not really panicked. That is, until they decided to call over the wheel chair and rolled me into the cardiac wing like an invalid. Yes, then I admit the panic roared in, red-lining at 8000.
Turns out I had a turn of pneumonia. Let me tell you, nothing is more fun than hocking up gritty bits smeared with maroon chunks. Reminded me of my smoking days, without the head rush, nor the cravings. I digress.
I’ve been slowly recovering, but I am left with this abnormal fear. Fear of overdoing it, fear of the symptoms that I have. That’s the thing there. People assume that anxiety issues rise out from Mommy not showering you with affection when you were little, or when you were bullied into eating mud pies as a grade-schooler.
For me, all of that is in the past. I have been through a lot of crap as a kid. Multiple moves, bullies, beaten up, a mother that constantly HAD to work in order for us to do the finer things in life – like sleep under a roof, eat and be generally healthy. Sure, bad things happened to me during that time, and worse later on in life. But that’s not it. That’s not what has me freaking out.
Yesterday, I had this turn that I thought my heart was going to explode. I checked my pulse while walking to my wife’s car, and it topped out at 170 BPM. I was just walking, not jogging, or running. My anxiety level was at a 9 or 10. When I got to the daycare to pick my son up, I was at a full-blown DEFCON 2, ready for the fallout to arrive. I had to sit in the window sill, breathing through a plastic Zip-Loc bag to calm myself down. I had taken 2 x 1mg pills of Ativan, so I calmed down enough to be able to safely drive my son home.
How did this start? It didn’t come out of the blue. For days I have worried about the pain in my solar plexus area. It’s a dull, rotten finger pressing on the sternum, with tendrils of pain radiating from the center. Once in a while I would feel a claw-like stabbing pain in the rib area attached to the sternum, or under my breast on the left. Then maybe a vice-like pinching down my arm that shot tiny flaming darts into my fingers. Or perhaps best of all, the very center of my back felt as if someone took a rubber mallet to the area where my rib cage meets my spine. My chest muscles feel like a band of glowing, hot coals that area slowly rendering the fat off my chest muscles.
I’m afraid of the symptoms. My nerves are raw, and talking about past events doesn’t make those symptoms go away. Sometimes they make them even worse, because of the tensing of the muscles. What makes me do the double-take is when I can feel my heart hammering in my chest, threatening to get out, it skips a beat – or when I am dizzy while walking, in a bewildered state. When a simple red color looks fluorescent against a white background.
When my tired mind asks me: What if I am having a heart attack? What is that pain? Why is my heart rate so high? Do I have a fever? Am I overdoing it? What if I drop dead? Who would take care of my son, and my wife? What the hell is wrong with me, and why do I feel this way?
Throughout this, I guess a normal person wouldn’t worry about it. It’ll pass. I know this, because I used to be that normal person. Today, that sharp claw-like pain lasts for a half-second, but my heart backflips – thinking maybe something is serious.
That’s how panic gets me. It takes what would be boring old buttercream, and tricks my mind into thinking it’s Royal Icing.
I know that I need help, and I am on my way to getting it. Thing is, the psychologist costs $90 per session, and from the 6 sessions I have been with her, I got nowhere. I’m not running from a past, I’m not worried that my mommy didn’t show me much love, I’m not questioning my marriage, or whether it’s what I want or blah blah.
There are groups that I could join to get support. Unfortunately the waiting list is obscene. Here I am, October 12th, and the earliest I can get to is the END of January! I hope my nerves will last that long. The hardest part is being alone with these thoughts, for a few more months.